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upon angel-lore for religion's fixity and content was found in Swedenborg's case, as if one should expect definite completeness from a solution of continuity. Imagination still braced itself with fact, and was tincted with the egotism, not only of the individual, but also of the society of which he was one. “Round an orb, that is self-luminous, the atmosphere always quivers," and ignorance where it limits must always somewhat distort. 1
We now come to the point where Swedenborg rose above all this.
Christmas-tide, with its customary opportunities for peaceful, holy thought, had just departed, and the year 1747, with its new responsibilities, had come in. Our author was still working on at the “ Adversaria," when, towards the end of January, the following lines were penned. (See page 218 of last vol.) )
“The temptations of Messiah were most interior, thus ineffable, so that no mind can form an idea of them. They were most interior, because the Human Essence of God Messiah was thus united to the Divine, thereby to constitute an
In the beam of light involved in this thought the New Church doctrine of the Lord was for the first time seen. A trinitarian texture of expression became for the first time impossible. The “Adversaria,"
“ in consequence, for the first time became heterodox to Swedenborgonly six
pages and a half were therefore written afterwards (these not continuously), and then the “ Adversaria” was for ever put aside. These latter pages may be regarded as the first of the new theology. The last lines were written on the 9th February, and Swedenborg therein informs us that “while writing these pages crowds of infernal spirits violently beset him, and poured into his thoughts such dark venom as cannot be described, --nay, fain would they have done the same with his affections themselves.
Two events in Swedenborg's history soon followed this; the one we have without date, but fitting this period only; the other—a letterleaves no room for question.
Respecting the first, Swedenborg tells us that on a certain day there
i Here is a striking example of this. Harris reads Goethe's “Faust” in the common translations; these end with part i. In the nether world, he meets with a demon, who personates Goethe, and continues “Faust” in a part ii., ignorant of the fact that Goethe had published a second part twenty-five years before. See Harris, part ii., in “ Song of Satan.”
2 This portion is thus underlined in the original Latin; considering its importance, we ought to know whether the manuscript itself justifies this distinction.
appeared before him a magnificent square temple, the structure and contents of which he describes. While meditating thereon, the signification of each object was discovered to him by an influx from above. These correspondences he also gives us. He then approached nearer, and saw written over the gate, Now IT IS ALLOWABLE. After this, he saw, as it were, an infant over his head, and holding a paper. As the infant came nearer, it grew to the proportions of a middle-sized man. He was an angel from the celestial heaven, where all appear at a distance like infants. Swedenborg, on being shown the paper, asked that it might be read in words adapted to the ideas of his thought. This was done, and the contents read as follows: “FROM THIS TIME ENTER INTO THE MYSTERIES OF THE WORD, WHICH BEFORE WAS CLOSED UP, FOR ALL ITS TRUTHS ARE SO MANY MIRRORS OF THE LORD” (T. C. R. 508).
The other event we alluded to was this, that in a letter of our author to the King of Sweden, dated June 2, 1747, Swedenborg is seen to be already “engaged upon a new work, which he felt it incumbent upon himself to finish.” He, furthermore, asks to be released from office, to have no higher grade of office conferred upon him, to be allowed to keep half his salary, and “permitted to go abroad to a place where he can finish the important work upon which he is now engaged.” This leave was granted, and “in the autumn of the same year Swedenborg sailed from Gottenburg for London ;"2 wrought at the “ Arcana Coelestia" the following year, and within another year saw the first Latin quarto volume thereof come safely through the press. Not least among the many wonderful considerations attending it is this,—that while the “ Adversaria” contained innumerable statements erroneous and inharmonious, the first volume of the “ Arcana” does not contain a single statement conflicting in the smallest degree with anything our author subsequently wrote: neither is it lower or different
henceforward to the end, through many years, all the writings are consistent and mutually elucidative. The reason is clear; it is now no longer a question of spirits—these have brought him into order, he is thenceforth taught through order itself and general influx—“ an influx like a most gentle and almost imperceptible stream, the vein of which does not appear, but still leads and draws; that which flowed in from the Lord leading all the serieses of his thoughts
See both Swedenborg's letter and the King's reply in extenso. Intellectual Repository, 1870, page 19.
* White, i. 289.
into consequences, gently yet powerfully, so that he could not in anywise wander into other thoughts” (A. C. 6474).
Here, then, our inquiry ends. We have seen Swedenborg in the night-period, amid the terrors of darkness and its awakening dreams. Faithful to his new duties, he has wrought on through the new dawn, we have seen how heroically. We leave him now when the sun of an eternal day is found to be shining in meridian splendour above his head, and while he—“ Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ”—is busied in the work for the “holy city, coming down from God out of heaven.” “And there shall be no night there."
Man,” says Swedenborg, about the time this first volume was printed, man walks as it were in thick forests, the egress from which he does not know; but when he finds it, he attributes the discovery to himself.
Providence in the meanwhile is as one who stands in a tower, sees the wanderings of the man, and leads him without his knowledge to the place of egress” (S. D. 4393). Unlike most men, Swedenborg knew he was under Divine guidance ; he gave God all the glory; for it was neither from man nor angel but from God alone (during the reading of the Word), that those doctrines came which form the wall, and the gates and the time-sufficing foundations of the eternal city of the Lamb (see T. C. R. 779).
FRAGMENTS OF THE EARLY SOCIAL HISTORY OF THE
NEW CHURCH IN THE NORTH.
From the circumstances connected with the early history of the Church in country localities, the brief record here given necessarily deals more with the personal character of the leading members of the different societies, than with the prominent events which more properly belong to history. This feature will not, however, it is believed render these brief annals less interesting, as it will be found that the New Church in Lancashire originated amongst a remarkable class of men, of which Mr. Clowes may be regarded as in some sort the type, except that he was a man of superior education, whilst those with
om these papers have to deal were mostly illiterate : they had nevertheless, in common
with him, a deep religious sentiment, and strong perceptive and reasoning powers which appears to have formed the nexus which so strongly allied them to their revered friend. Some of them also, as briefly intimated in my previous paper, were reclaimed by the doctrines from practices and habits more or less bordering on the dissolute. I have dwelt the more on these circumstances from the prevalence of an opinion, that the New Church doctrines soar above the simple-minded, and are only suited for the more educated and refined ; whilst, from their appealing so much to the intellect, they are not so much calculated for reclaiming the sinner, but rather tend to encourage intellectual pride. Both these assumptions are, however, disproved by facts. Indeed the contemplation of the earnest simplicity of these men is suggestive of considerations which may profitably engage the attention of the members of the Church of to-day. That they were not free from defects, is not to be denied; but they appear to have been rather in formal matters. They do not seem to have had any very definite notions of Church government; nor would Mr. Clowes's instruction tend in this direction. Himself a minister of the establishment, and firmly convinced in his own mind, that no other orderly or legitimate religious organization existed in England, and that the establishment would be the great agent in building up the New Church, and extending her doctrines; he regarded the surrounding societies rather as a temporary arrangement till the consummation he so devoutly wished and so fervently expected should be realized, than as a permanent condition. But it is time to proceed with our narrative.
A society of very early date was that known as the Ringley society, referred to in my last as meeting at "Top o' th' Brow." This society originated through the labours of Mr. Thomas Seddon, father of the late Rev. James Seddon, who ministered at Frankford, near Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania. His acquaintance with the doctrines originated through his anxiety to obtain a clear and satisfactory view of the Divine Trinity. This leading him to frequent conversations with his neighbours on the subject, he was at length recommended to seek information from Mr. Clowes, as likely to solve his difficulties. To him he accordingly wrote. From some cause he did not receive an answer to his first communication, which led to his writing a second time, when, instead of replying by letter, Mr. Clowes paid him a visit : and thus commenced the semiquarterly meetings from which the title of "Six-week Folk," applied to those who attended them, had its origin. These meetings were
numerously resorted to by persons from the surrounding neighbourhood, some coming from as far as Bolton to be present at them.
In due course those favourable to the views formed themselves into a society, over which Mr. Seddon acted as leader. Sunday services naturally followed. This course was facilitated by a room in the adjoining house, occupied by Mr. Seddon's brother, having been licensed, as stated in my last, so early as the reign of Charles II.1 In these meetings the Sunday morning was devoted to conversation, and the afternoon to a regular service and sermon, Mr. Seddon usually officiating. Some of these conversations used to be spoken of as very interesting, and contributed to the members acquiring a more than ordinarily sound acquaintance with the doctrines; so much so, that when the late Mr. Pownall visited these grave patriarchs in his pastoral character, he felt, to use his own expression, as if preaching before a bench of bishops.
As respects their organization, as already intimated, it was of a very simple character. They had few expenses, the rent, cleaning, and warming of the room being the principal. These were provided for by voluntary contributions, notice of which, when required, was intimated by a board with "rent-day" painted on it being hung up in the room. At other times the painted side was or rather should have been turned to the wall. This however was not always the case. So indifferent were the members to these external matters, that in one instance "rentday" stared the congregation in the face Sunday after Sunday for six months. I mention this trifling incident as marking one point of difference between the state of the Church at that time and the present. The members unquestionably read more assiduously than, with few exceptions, is the case now, and derived the advantages resulting from the practice; as an organization, however, it was far inferior. They were fond of conversing on the doctrines, but, generally speaking, were
1 The licence, to which the royal seal and signature were appended, is probably still extant, and is most likely in the possession of the descendants of William Bateman, Esq., the celebrated Derbyshire Antiquary, of Myddelton near Bakewell, in that county, who obtained it through the influence of the late Messrs. Crompton of Kersley, whose sister he married. He also purchased a table which had been used in the times of religious persecution. It was made with a moveable top and a recess beneath instead of a drawer. It appears to have been used when the Presbyterians to whom it belonged had to hold their meetings by stealth. On these occasions, scouts were planted around the dwelling, who gave intimation if any suspicious characters came in view, when the meeting was broken up, the hymn- placed in the recess within the table, and a repast spread on the top of it.